Scams Awareness Fortnight shares advice on staying safe

Starting this week and running until June 28, it's Scams Awareness Fortnight and this year's campaign is focusing on the scams that opportunists have set up during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Derbyshire County Council's trading standards team is helping to highlight and combat these crimes. 

Scams Awareness Fortnight is led by Citizens Advice and takes place annually in June. It aims to raise awareness of scams and to help people protect themselves and others from becoming victims of scams.

At any time, there are numerous scams going on. Citizens Advice research shows that almost three-quarters of people have been targeted by scammers in the last two years either via mail, phone calls, text messages, emails, online, or face-to-face.

Given the uncertainty created by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that people know how to protect themselves and others from scams.

The latest coronavirus scams include ones pretending to be from the government. You may get a text message saying the government has issued you a payment of £458 and you need to click on the link to claim it.

People are being urged NOT to as it’s a scam - as is any email supposedly from gov.uk saying that you are to be fined for leaving your home more than once. The only proper source for information issued by the government is www.gov.uk.

People are also being warned about possible scams by call, text or email in relation to the new NHS test and trace service. Genuine contact tracers will never ask for any passwords, bank details or pin numbers – any communication from them will be asking you to sign into the NHS test and trace website.

Since the start of the lockdown, the county council’s trading standards team has contacted over 400 people to provide reassurance and advice to protect those residents identified as particularly vulnerable to scams and fraud. 

Cllr Carol Hart, DCC Cabinet Member for Health and Communities, said: "This year protecting people against scams is more important than ever. The coronavirus pandemic means many people are facing challenges around employment, debt, housing and health which can make them vulnerable to scammers.

"Our trading standards team is working hard to protect particularly vulnerable Derbyshire residents and to create awareness across the county of possible scams so that people can protect themselves and others." 

There are doorstep, phone and online scams to watch out for at any time and particularly at the moment.

Doorstep scammers may be offering fake virus testing kits or offering to do your shopping and making off with your cash. Phone fraudsters are often after bank details and online crooks may be selling fake goods or using ‘phishing’ emails with malicious attachments to get people’s personal and financial information.

There are many sources of support and information about scams including:
• www.derbyshire.gov.uk/scams - this includes a link to the county council’s Scams Bulletin for regularly updated information about local and national scams
• Call Derbyshire on 01629 533190
• Check your online safety with the county council’s Digital MOT, developed in partnership with Derbyshire Police
• Report scams and fraud to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Phishing emails can be reported to report@phishing.gov.uk
• Citizens Advice Consumer Service 0808 223 1133
• Crimestoppers, which you can call anonymously on 0800 555 111.
• For more information on how to shop online safely, visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/shoponlinesafely
• For information on how to update your devices, visit https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/securing-your-devices

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